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The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  248,270 Ratings  ·  6,940 Reviews
Oscar Wilde's madcap farce about mistaken identities, secret engagements, and lovers entanglements still delights readers more than a century after its 1895 publication and premiere performance. The rapid-fire wit and eccentric characters of The Importance of Being Earnest have made it a mainstay of the high school curriculum for decades.

Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax
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Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 2nd 2005 by A&C Black (first published 1895)
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The Usual Um... You know what the word whore means, right? The characters may all be flippant, glib, and (in your view) irritating, but they aren't whores.

Community Reviews

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Bookdragon Sean
“We live in an age of ideals”

Wilde is a genius. This play is genius. What a penetrating critique of high Victorian society this becomes; but rather than being a dull argument or essay, it takes on the body of a hilarious play. This is just absurd, outrageous and straight to the point. This picture says it all to me:

description

Jack undergoes a great deal of social mobility prior to the events of the play; however, Bracknell, who represents the rigidness of British aristocracy, is very alarmed that such a
...more
Trevor
Apr 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
When I was quite young – I guess, if you were of a mind to, you might say it was a generation ago – I was listening to a radio program and for some reason they decided to do the handbag scene from The Importance of Being Earnest. I’d heard of the play before, obviously, but only the name. I had thought it would be some terribly dreary thing, having no idea just how funny a man Wilde was. The guy on the radio gave it quite a build up – saying something to the effect that this scene is not just on ...more
Emily May
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, plays
“If you are not too long, I will wait for you all my life.”

Ah, Mr Wilde can always be counted on to make me laugh, to poke fun at the ridiculousness of human behaviour, to tell a story that is both incredibly clever and undeniably silly. The Importance of Being Earnest is a play about mistaken identity, lies, the English class system, and the never-ending vanity and selfishness of high society members. And it's hilarious. It's one of few pre-20th century comedies to have maintained it's laugh fa
...more
Cecily
Jun 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you try to take this literally, it is ludicrous, so don’t. It is a delicately crafted confection of spun sugar: sweet but sharp, beautiful, brittle, and engineered to amuse. “An iridescent filament of fantasy”, as critic William Archer described the opening performance on Valentine’s Day 1895.



In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.” Gwendolen

This play is a social comedy that celebrates surfaces: the flexible importance of etiquette (as long as it's underpinn
...more
Ashwood, 불
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious and entertaining read, the wit and sarcasm in this book was outta this world🙃👌🏻
Brina
Apr 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, comedy
I read The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde as part of classics bingo to satisfy my satire square. Educated at Oxford in the late 19th century, Wilde was a product of strict upper class British social mores. He married and fathered two children and then came out as homosexual. Wilde's plays and novellas poked fun at the society which had renounced him and later put him on trial. Earnest received good marks in London prior to Wilde's social downfall and has made a comeback in classic re ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
My read of An Ideal Husband last week convinced me that I needed to read this 1895 play again, my favorite by Oscar Wilde. One of the wittiest plays ever!

Algernon is visited in his town home by his friend Ernest, who intends to propose to Algernon's cousin Gwendolen. Algernon manages to dig out his friend's secret: his name is actually Jack.

description

Jack has an 18 year old ward, Cecily, who lives in his country home. So he uses the name Ernest when he is in town so he can live it up a little, and then t
...more
Henry Avila
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Algernon (Algy) Moncrieff, is being visited, by his enigmatic friend, Ernest Worthing, that is "Ernest" in town and Jack (John), in the country. It's a long story, but we have time, Mr.Worthing, likes to go to town! Get as far as possible, away from his stifling, depressing, responsibilities at home, change his name to Ernest and becomes his younger brother ( who doesn't exist). Do the wrong things, everybody has secrets, still lies in fact, flow like maple syrup on pancakes, from his lips. That ...more
Sanjay Gautam
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some times it makes me wonder that this play was written ages ago. This book seems to be a contemporary classic! It seems there are lots of movies based on the theme of this play. And one more thing I noticed that it has all the spices of an Indian comedy movie.

It's full of witticism and humour, but sometimes so silly that you cannot stop laughing out loud. A fun read that will make you forget your troubles for a while!
Jean
Every line in The Importance of Being Earnest is an absolute gem. Remember these?

“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.”

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

“No woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating.”


Just three for a start - I had not realised quite how many of Oscar Wilde's bon mots originated in this particular play, which is subtitled, A
...more
Amanda
Jan 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blog
I have come to a basic conclusion: Oscar Wilde was the man. And this play proves it. Full of zingers, witty banter, the well-crafted insult, and all things that make Wilde, well, Wilde, the play had me laughing out loud at lines like "The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to someone else if she is plain" or, as a resigned Jack realizes none of them may be married, "Then a passionate celibacy is all that any of us can look forward to."

Also characteristic
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l a i n e y
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who can’t get into Picture of Dorian Gray, like me.
To lose one parent may be regarded as misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness

I wish, with all my heart, someone would ask me “Hey have you read anything by Oscar Wilde?”

Just so I could emphatically say “YES. Yes I have!”

I did feel like I have accomplished some unknown personal reading goal with this: I’ve read Oscar Wilde now. And wasn’t he a riot!

Lady Bracknell, hands down, the MVP of this story. All the best lines were from her ladyship.

I was obliged to call on dear Lady Harbury.
...more
Steven
Oscar Wildre was pretty darn quotable, wasn't he:

The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her if she is pretty and to someone else if she is plain.

To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.

In married life, three is company, and two is none.

I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything o
...more
♛Tash
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah this was delightful, says I while I sip my tea and take delicate bites of my crumpet. That is code for chugging Sunny-D and shoveling pizza bites into my mouth.

This rom-comedy of errors is fantastic. Oscar Wilde elevated throwing shade to everything to such an elegant artform. The banter is clever, the pacing smooth and the twist surprisingly unexpected.

Sass level: Oscar Wilde


A must read and see.
Arthur Graham
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I'm Ernest P. Worrell, and I approve this message.

description

Now, there's been an awful lotta discussion goin' on 'round these parts, lotsa blow-hards and no-brains spoutin' off their own uninformed, silly-ass opinions on the matter, but me I'm fixin' to put an end to all this nonsense, right here right now. Yessiree Bob, that's right -- I'm about to explain to y'all knuckleheads the TRUE importance of being Ernest, so listen up!

Lemme ask you somethin' -- Have you ever survived the Kikakee warrior initiati
...more
Sara
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wilde certainly has a way with words.

I love the complexity and multi layered plot for this. Everything from the title is a play on words, satirical and funny. Although it's relatively short, it's well developed and the characters are fully formed and fleshed out well. Algernon is a firm favourite. He seems to get all the best lines, and his wit is as sharp as a sword. His decision to turn up at Jack's country house as his brother Ernest is this driving force behind the conclusion of the play to
...more
Hirdesh
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Lovely drama by Great writer and poet.

Excellent writing and Candidly flew by all characters.
It comprises of comedy in well defined fashion throughout all Acts.
Glad to read, Awaited for prolong.
Sarah
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spoiler alert: There's nothing earnest about this play. Or is there?
Vane J.
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oscar Wilde is simply a genius. I could end this review with that statement, but I won't so I can convince you if you haven't read anything by this man.

Honestly, what makes this play so good? Simply put, it's actually nothing. Why? It's just plain ridiculous and foolish, but it made me laugh like nothing had done for a while.

Yet... how could I like something that is, in essence, foolish and I'm constantly complaining about that? Because that's what Wilde pretended. This is not a play with a seri
...more
Vimal Thiagarajan
One of those timeless plays that still retains its original charm after innumerable conscious and unconcious repititions of varying degrees in Indian movies. A splendid critique on not just Victorian society but almost any modern society, cooked up in the most palatable form with plenty of wit and irony. Best thing about it is that none of the characters seem to be aware of their hypocrisies, which creates an amplifying mirror of the real world. Will have to read more of Wilde.
Brad
Comedy is tough to do well, even by those who create it, but it is even tougher to go back and restage past comedies for modern audiences. The easy explanation is that humour is such a product of its time that audiences are simply not capable of getting the jokes -- not truly. There may be something to that, but I think the real problem is more complex, and I think it can be remedied.

Most comedies, particularly those that hold up and become memorable classics, tell their jokes to make a point. G
...more
Ana M. Román
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: clásicos, reto
No he podido acercarme de mejor forma a Oscar Wilde.

"Una comedia trivial para gente seria" No hay una definición más adecuada que la que nos da su autor. Es divertida pero a base de utilizar de una forma muy fina el lenguaje. Está cargada de ironía, dobles significados y sátiras. Es un humor diferente, inteligente. Y si especialmente amas la ironía (mea culpa) te va a encantar.

Aunque me gusta el teatro no soy precisamente una fan de leer obras de teatro, lo mío son las representaciones en especi
...more
Aubrey
I've gotten to the point where, barring a few momentously surprising highs and lows, I know what I'll like and what I will not. This is not an absolute method, but one of categories where in order to be good, one must be very, very, very good. Comedy? Check. Satire? Check. Rich white people problems? All the checks. Furthermore, when I say 'good' I'm speaking of awareness of power, the ratio of jokes that punch up to those which punch sideways or down, A Modest Proposal versus 'The Big Bang Theo ...more
MsAprilVincent
Mar 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school, classics, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Oscar Wilde is my backup husband, after William Shakespeare.

I don't care that he was gay; he's also dead, but I'm not really making that an issue, am I?
Sumirti Singaravel
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who needs a a BIG Laughter
* Never read this book in a crowd.
* Never read this book when you are not alone.
* Never read this book after mid-night.
* Never read this book with the doors of your room kept open.
* Never read this book sitting down on the floor.

...because when I read this book in my room, with the doors open at 1.00 am, my mother woke up from her sleep and got awe-shocked at the manner I was rolling on the floor laughing, asked me, "It's been a long time I saw you laughing this way. What happened? Are you
...more
Evelina
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're not too long,i will wait for you all my life- Gwendolen

Θίγοντας με ειρωνεία την εξαπάτηση στην οποία προβαίνει κανείς για να αποκτήσει -κυριολεκτικά-ένα όνομα που θα παρέχει ασφάλεια και κύρος,ο Ουάιλντ κάνει μια νύξη στα στερεότυπα της αριστοκρατίας του 19ου αιώνα .
Από αυτό το έργο απουσιάζει η χυδαιότητα και η απεριόριστη ματαιοδοξία των χαρακτήρων που τους ωθούν σε τέτοιου είδους προσβλητικές πράξεις,όπως συνήθως συμβαίνει με τους πρωταγωνιστές του Ουάιλντ,καθώς εδώ φαίνεται να το κ
...more
David
May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Men named Earnest. Or Jack. Or Bunbury.
Plays are generally better heard than read (I find Shakespeare dull as dirt to read, though I enjoy watching his plays), and that is certainly true of this Victorian comedy of misdirection and misunderstanding. Oscar Wilde was in full satiric mode though his humor was perhaps gentler than usual, even though he was sending up Victorian manners and hypocrisy.


Lady Bracknell. [Pencil and note-book in hand.] I feel bound to tell you that you are not down on my list of eligible young men, although I h
...more
Furqan
I started reading this play on the train while commuting, and had to stop myself after reading few pages because I found it impossible to suppress my laughter and as a result of it, I noticed I was attracting reproving looks from my fellow travelers. I can't remember reading anything as hilarious as this play. Wilde is the undisputed master of sardonic wit, which is cleverly employed in his characters' terse and opportune dialogues.

Some savouring quotes inculde:

"To lose one parent may be regard
...more
Sarah
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z2015, plays, classics, fiction
I'm totally surprised at how much I liked this! It was really funny and silly and it's a great story. I feel like this is a work that definitely should be remembered unlike a lot of other old works. I would recommend this and I would probably read another work by Oscar Wilde.
Mel
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, 2016
Oscar Wilde was a genius and I'm happy to be able to read his works and spend a bit of time in his revolutionary mind.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Mrs. Warren's Profession
  • Henry V
  • The Pillowman
  • Travesties
  • Long Day's Journey Into Night
  • Trifles
  • Krapp's Last Tape and Other Dramatic Pieces
  • In the Next Room, or the vibrator play
  • The Rivals
  • The History Boys
  • Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde
  • She Stoops to Conquer
  • Noises Off
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Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being E ...more
More about Oscar Wilde...

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“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” 15117 likes
“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” 5478 likes
More quotes…